Empire star Jussie Smollett has been hospitalized after a “possible racially charged” attack by two men, the Chicago Police Department has confirmed.
According to TMZ, Jussie Smollett returned to Chicago from New York at around 2am, at which point he went to eat at his local subway. As he left the store, two men reportedly shouted at him: “Aren’t you that faggot ‘Empire’ n*****?”
“The 2 men — both white and wearing ski masks — viciously attacked Jussie as he fought back, but they beat him badly and fractured a rib,” the outlet alleged. “They put a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him and as they left they yelled, ‘This is MAGA country.'”
The Daily Beast reported that a Chicago Police spokesperson says “the attackers’ genders are unknown, and that their faces and hands had been covered.”
Smollett was taken to Northwestern Memorial for treatment and was discharged later Tuesday morning.
Chicago Police Department just sent out this statement re:
Jussie Smollett pic.twitter.com/DxQswZn8xd
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 29, 2019
In a statement, Chicago Police Department Chief Spokesman Anthony Gugliemi described the incident as a “possible racially-charged assault and battery,” and they would treat the investigation as a possible hate crime.
“Overnight, the Chicago Police Department received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire,” Gugliemi said. “Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime. Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”
Although some claim the attack was racially motivated, there are also claims it was an attack on Smollett’s sexuality. In March 2015, the 35-year-old actor came out as gay in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, similar to his character Jamal Lyon. He has yet to publicly comment on Monday’s incident.
Empire creator Lee Danials took to social media to offer his support to Smollett, ending his video saying, “It’s just another fucking day in America.”